In the company of two of my sons, I saw Batman Begins this weekend. Both of them agree that it is the best of all Batmans so far.
Myself, I liked the comic-gothic Tim Burton Batman--great Danny Elfman score, for one; Jack Nicholson, sure; but I also liked Michael Keaton as Batman. A lot. Really, his portrayal is very much of a piece with Christian Bale's--I could see the two portraits sort of merging. What I like about a somewhat effaced Batman is that his heroic gesture is always somewhat compromised: he has no superpowers, only excellent equipment. His judgment and instincts about how to deploy the equipment are the only things he has going for him. I like a Batman where the restraint seems rooted in the personality.
This Batman also gives us a sort of renunciatory quality: the sense that, because of his restraint, his judgements, his instincts, and his secrecy, he is also somehow stunted, operating emotionally at a remove. This film explains the trauma (to get Freudian) that initiates the removal. It also gives that trauma a history. I loved the part of this film that has Bruce Wayne somewhere in the Himalayas (that's how I read it, anyway), abasing himself, then submitting to the quasi-spiritual discipline of the Shadow Brotherhood. Eerie connections with Kill Bill, featuring a similarly brutal discipline/disciplehood in the martial arts. What is it about the East? Once he comes back, all that zen seems to evaporate into tanks and body armor.
The last question the film raises for me is this: why do so many filmmakers want to take a crack at material like this?